Jose Mourinho says Arsenal can be title contenders in the Premier League
But he questions whether Arsenal have the momentum after Monaco defeat
Dusan Tadic equalised from the spot after Diego Costa put Blues ahead
Portuguese coach believed decision to award penalty was incorrect
Mourinho had a public disagreement with Graeme Souness this week
The Special One was again critical of Souness’ comments post-match
Jose Mourinho claims Arsenal are back in the race for the Barclays Premier League title after Chelsea were held 1-1 by Southampton.
Arsenal beat West Ham 3-0 on Saturday and Arsene Wenger’s side, who have not won the league since 2004, are now seven points behind Chelsea.
Mourinho said: ‘Of course Arsenal are in it. They are seven points behind Chelsea, but have one less match to play than Chelsea.
‘Both City and Arsenal are in the title race. It depends on the momentum for Arsenal – the 3-1 defeat against Monaco or the 3-0 defeat against West Ham?
‘So the danger is always there. But I keep saying, we are there. If someone had told me in August that, at the end of March, we’d be six points in front with a match in hand, I’d have signed for that immediately.
‘There are two perspectives. One perspective is a draw at home to Southampton is not a good result. For me, that perspective is very acceptable.
‘The second perspective is we had a lead of five points from second, and now it’s six points with one less match to play.’
Mourinho believed a wrongly-awarded penalty denied his side an eight-point lead over Manchester City at the top of the league.
The Portuguese coach was fined £25,000 for saying there was a ‘clear campaign’ against his side after Cesc Fabregas was denied a penalty and booked for diving instead in the December 28 draw at St Mary’s.
Jose Mourinho: More teams in title race with Chelsea dropping…
On Sunday Mourinho was frustrated Nemanja Matic was penalised – allowing Dusan Tadic to score from the spot and cancel out Diego Costa’s first Premier League goal for almost two months – while Branislav Ivanovic was not awarded a spot kick at the other end.
‘I’m happy with the situation. I’m happy with the six-point lead, but I’m not happy with the result,’ Mourinho said.
‘If you remember our two matches against Southampton: in one game, one penalty that is not a penalty and in another game a penalty that was not given. You are speaking about six points transformed into two points.’
Thibaut Courtois could not keep out Dusan Tadic’s spot-kick and the playmaker secured a point for Saints
Mourinho was clearly upset with the penalty decisions, but bit his tongue on this occasion.
He said: ‘My opinion is not important. Important is Mr Mike Dean (the referee).
‘His decision was a penalty and his decision was no penalty on Ivanovic.’
Branislav Ivanovic went down in search of a penalty but Dean did not give the desired spot-kick
Sportsmail’s Big Match Stats: Chelsea 1-1 Southampton
Asked about the fall, Mourinho deferred to his media officer sitting alongside, saying: ‘You have to control me, if not…’
Mourinho was told television pundit Graeme Souness – with whom he had a public exchange of views this week after the Scot criticised Chelsea’s conduct in the Champions League exit to Paris St Germain – thought Matic had conceded a penalty.
‘Graeme Souness says also that it’s more a reason to criticise a player who asks for a yellow card than a player who kicks somebody in the chest,’ Mourinho added.
‘I went to Sky and they told me their pundits said it’s a penalty. I went to BBC and they told me it’s not a penalty. I went to the radios and they told me it’s not a penalty.
Mourinho said that pundits ‘win every game’ due to their position of being critical but exempt from criticism
‘Pundits are paid to wear my suit, but I’m not paid to wear their suit or to comment on their comments.
‘If one day I become a pundit, I will wear a manager’s suit. I will win every game, because pundits win every game, and then I can be critical and I can be phenomenal like they are.’
Matic was replaced by Ramires soon after a second-half foul on Sadio Mane which could have seen him booked for a second time – after his initial yellow when giving away the penalty – and sent off for a second successive Premier League game.
‘When that penalty is given you have to believe that the second yellow card can come,’ said Mourinho.